Gregory R. Waddell
Attorney at Law

Serving in the practice areas of Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Family Law, and Traffic Defense since 1988.

Traffic Defense

What are the effects of traffic violations?

A traffic "ticket" or summons is issued for violations of state or local traffic regulations. Many traffic violations involve only fines. However, serious traffic violations, such as drunk driving or driving while your license was suspended may involve potential jail time and large fines. These cases are initiated by an arrest warrant. In serious traffic cases, the court may suspend your privilege to drive in Virginia, confiscate your license, as well as fine you and/or sentence you to jail.

Can I pay a traffic offense without coming to court?

Whether or not you must come to court for a traffic violation is indicated by the officer on your traffic ticket. If the officer has checked the box requiring you to appear, then you must come on the appointed day and time to court or you may be found guilty in your absence. If you are not required to appear, you may still come and argue your case before a judge if you disagree with the traffic ticket. If you are not required to appear in court, you may pay your ticket in person or by mail before the court date indicated on the ticket. The traffic ticket has instructions regarding the process for prepayment. Payment may be made by cash, personal check or credit card.

What are the effects of drunk driving violations?

If you are convicted of driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, commonly known as drunk driving, then you may receive jail time in addition to having your license suspended and paying a fine. If this is your first drunk driving conviction, or if you have special needs, you may qualify for a restricted driver's license to drive to and from work or school, and in medical emergencies. If this is your second or third offense, then more serious jail time and penalties may apply. Because you may receive jail time for a drunk driving conviction, you may want to consult with an attorney to review your legal options. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test is a separate violation and if the court finds you guilty of refusing to submit to the test your Virginia driving privileges can be suspended for one year.

What is a restricted drivers license?

If your license has been suspended for certain offenses, you may petition or make a motion to the court to request a restricted driver's license. A restricted driver's license usually allows you to drive to and from work or school, and for medical treatment or emergencies. If your license was suspended for drunk driving, you may be required to attend a counseling program before a judge will issue a restricted license. Also, the judge may require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. The device will test the alcohol content of your breath and prevent the vehicle from being operated if your breath registers any concentration of alcohol.

How are driving demerits points assigned?

Virginia courts do not assign points for traffic violation convictions. Any points on your driving record are assigned or awarded by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, known as the DMV, or by your home state's department of motor vehicles if you live in another state. The Virginia DMV may assign positive or negative points based on information they receive from the court or during a review of your driving record. Your nearest Virginia DMV office can provide you a list of the points the DMV will assign for specific traffic violations. The DMV will also provide you a copy of your driving record, which is what the police officer will also have at the court hearing for your traffic violation.